Since we’ve decided to make our obedience debut in December, I’ve been reading up on what our chosen venue, CDSP, requires in the novice class. Here is an overview of what’s required, and what our progress looks like so far.
On Lead Heeling
This is your typical obedience heeling pattern, including pace changes, left and right turns, and an about turn. It also includes a distraction in the form of a steward walking towards you and your dog about 8 feet away.
Although we aren’t anywhere near a heeling pattern yet, our heeling is coming along nicely. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve really solidified the criteria of close. Maybe too close- although she still makes the occasional mistake and goes wide, most of the time she’s so close that I’m afraid I’m going to trip over her! She’s also started to “wrap” around to look at me, something I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I’m thrilled with the amount of attention she’s giving me, but on the other… well, to wrap, she must forge!
I’ve been working on reducing the forging by following Denise Fenzi’s suggestion of slowing down every time she forges. In order to receive the reward, Maisy must slow down enough to be in correct position. I would have never tried this on my own, but it's working. Maisy is quickly falling back into position, and is even offering the correct position during normal pace! In our last session, I began using the slow pace to correct and then returned to normal pace before rewarding. We will continue to do this until Maisy’s position is good.
We’ve continued to struggle with reward placement. Throwing the ball forward is easiest, but it is undoubtedly contributing to Maisy’s forging problem. Dropping it straight down doesn’t seem to be very reinforcing for her (she wants to chase). The obvious solution is to throw the ball behind us, but that’s been difficult. Every time I did, Maisy would shoot forward before circling back, making the whole thing counter-productive. Thankfully, an awesome friend saw what we were doing and then demonstrated how I should use my body to be more successful. It was a frustrating learning curve for both of us, but we’ve finally started to get it!
Here is this week's video. I'm really pleased with Maisy's progress, but feel like I'm really lacking in energy and enthusiasm.
Off Lead Figure 8
Two people stand as “posts,” and you and your dog must heel in a figure 8 pattern around them. You will be asked to halt twice. Maisy and I haven’t practiced this at all, but I assume that all of our heeling work will transfer over and create nice results here. At least, I hope so! I’m more worried about who the posts are… if they are friends, Maisy will be much more likely to approach them than if they are strangers.
Moving Stand for Exam
You and your dog heel approximately 10 feet, and when directed by the judge, you both stop. The dog must remain standing instead of sitting. You then leave the dog and move six feet away so the judge can briefly examine your dog before you return to heel position.
Maisy has actually done a stand for exam in competition- way back when this exercise was still an APDT bonus exercise. She didn’t love it, but she did it. I have been practicing the exercise with my husband, and had a friend do it as well. The moving stand part is fine, though we do need to keep working on it to minimize paw movement, but the stay part is hard. I thought she was going to dance with excitement towards our friend the other day… it was pretty cute, actually, and I will never, ever be upset if she NQs this exercise because she’s being friendly!
Recall over Bar Jump
In this exercise, you position your dog at least 8 feet from a jump, then move to the other side of the jump. Your dog should come over the jump when you call, sitting in front of you.
I was initially quite worried about this exercise, and indeed, the first couple of times, she came around the jump instead of going over it. We’ve been working on it almost every day, and she’s now pretty solid at 10-15 feet on either side. It’s a bit tougher with distractions of course, but we’re getting there.
The type of jump doesn’t seem to matter, either. In practice, I use a homemade PVC jump, so I wasn’t sure what she would do when she saw a real bar jump. Thankfully, when we tried it with proper, legal equipment last week, Maisy did just fine. So fine, in fact, that she anticipated my call front… that brat! I couldn't help but laugh I was so pleased that she knew what she was supposed to do (we can always work on the waiting part).
CDSP does not do group stays. Instead, your dog can sit or lie (your choice) in heel position while another dog completes the on-lead heeling pattern.
Because of Maisy’s reactivity, this is the hardest exercise of them all. She’s motion reactive, and the other dog will be running at one point (during the fast pace). I’m also not good at stays, but we’ve been practicing tons of distance stays (that’s more interesting to me), and I’ve done some baby honors with other dogs. She’s doing quite well, and we honored a fast-moving toller the other night.
Anyway, that’s what we need to do, and where we’re at. I’m pretty pleased with my little pup. I know we won’t be perfect, but then, I don’t really care about the Q at this point. What I want is a dog who goes into the ring happy and connected with me. I’m training with that in my mind foremost, and assuming that everything else will follow…